His hoodie has already become a cult favorite. His numbers are also favorable. James Jones has more touchdown catches than Randall Cobb, and almost as many receiving yards.
Not bad for a receiver the Green Bay Packers signed one week before the start of their regular season. The question is whether the Packers will retain Jones next season when star receiver Jordy Nelson returns from his torn ACL.
Quarterback Aaron Rodgers gave his approval this week.
“Yeah, for sure,” Rodgers said when asked if he wants the Packers to re-sign Jones. “He’s been through some injuries this year, and done a great job for us. He had a fast start, and then was dealing with some issues and pushed through them. He’s the kind of guy who practices all the time, competes really hard.
“He’s a big contributor for us. A pro’s pro. He’s been a great addition to our locker room and I’d love to see him return.”
Jones is playing this season on a one-year contract, signed at the veteran minimum. He’s far from a Pro Bowl-caliber receiver. He’ll be 32 years old next season, best suited for a Nos. 3 or 4 role in a passing attack.
Regardless, Jones is on pace to have his most productive season since 2012, when he led the NFL with 14 touchdowns. His 46 catches are 27 less than last season when he played with the Oakland Raiders, but his 788 yards are 122 more. He has eight touchdowns, two more than last year.
Jones’ 9.1 yards per catch last season in Oakland gave reason for pause when the Packers signed him. He’s averaging 17.1 yards per catch.
The Raiders cut Jones during the offseason. Then the New York Giants released Jones as part of their final cuts after training camp. Packers coach Mike McCarthy was asked Friday if Jones has surpassed his expectations.
“I think that’s a great question,” McCarthy said, “and I think you’ve got to give James a ton of credit, but it’s also unfair for me to answer, because I know James. And I felt watching James, when the personnel department, we sat down and watched the tape of him playing with the Giants in preseason and watching the Raiders tape, it was James. He looked the same as I remembered him. So he really kind of has come in here and really picked up where he left off.
“So once again, what are your expectations compared to my expectations? I feel like he’s come in and has just picked up like he never left, and I think that’s a real credit to him and the connection he has with Aaron and our offense. But I think from the outside, I think people would say he’s definitely exceeded expectations.”
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